Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ark Encounters, the Creation Museum, and Answers in Genesis

A few facts about Answers in Genesis and the properties they own and operate in northern Kentucky: 

* Answers in Genesis rejects key scientific facts as established by archaeology, cosmology, geology, linguistics, paleontology and evolutionary biology and argues that the universe, the Earth and life originated about 6,000 years ago.
* After his visit to Ark Encounters, owned and operated by Answers in Genesis, Bill Nye the Science Guy described his experience as "much more troubling or disturbing than I thought it would be" and stated that "every single science exhibit [at the Ark] is absolutely wrong."

* A. A. Gill, a British writer and critic, described the Creation Museum as "battling science and reason since 2007", writing: "This place doesn't just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology."

* Scientific and scholarly organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences, Paleontological Society, Geological Society of America, Australian Academy of Science, and the Royal Society of Canada have issued statements against the teaching of creationism. The National Center for Science Education, a science advocacy group, criticize Answers in Genesis's promotion of non-science.

* Astronomer Hugh Ross's organization Reasons To Believe, a progressive creationist organization, is a critic of Answers in Genesis. The BioLogos Foundation, which promotes evolutionary creationism, has stated that the views of Answers in Genesis have "force[d] many thoughtful Christians to lose 
their faith," while The Biologos Foundation "protect[s the Christian] faith."

* On May 31, 2007, Creation Ministries International filed a lawsuit in Supreme Court of Queensland against Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis seeking damages and accusing him of "unbiblical/unethical/unlawful behaviour" in his dealings with the Australian organization.

* Geologist Greg Neyman, founder of Old Earth Ministries (a traditional creationism organization) wrote that "The non-Christians will see the museum, and recognize its faulty science, and will be turned away from the church." Catholic theologian John Haught, a theistic evolutionist, said, "It's theologically problematic to me, as well as scientifically problematic", and that the museum would cause an "impoverishment" of religion. Theistic evolutionist Michael Patrick Leahy, editor of the online magazine Christian Faith and Reason, said that the museum "undermines the credibility of all Christians".


Not only are these people anti-science ideologues, they are even pariahs among other creationist groups.

The fact that their museums are geared towards children only makes it even worse. And it's not an accident. It's not as if there aren't plenty of adults who believe in creationism. The reason the museums are geared towards children is because children are easier to manipulate. They believe that if the seeds are planted at a young age, they can influence future generations towards their insidious belief systems.  They also know that by appealing to families, they stand to make more money - so that they can, in turn, spread their message even farther and wider.

And these belief systems ARE insidious. If this was just a group of wacko fundamentalists who believe the earth is 6,000 years old, it wouldn't be any big deal.  But they are actively trying to convert people to their way of thinking, and they are part of a larger network of similar groups with similar goals.

And why is it a problem if they convert susceptible people to their way of thinking? Because then they can begin to influence national conversations and public policy. After all, if you can convince people that science is wrong about everything, you can easily convince them that things like climate change are wrong.  Why do you suppose there is such weeping and gnashing of teeth in this country over climate science, when it's totally non-controversial in every other corner of the developed world? Because there are already so many Americans - spurred on by groups like Answers in Genesis - who are skeptical of the claims of "scientists," whom they equate with "liberals" and "atheists" and other "bad" people.

"But Scott, it's just a fun time for kids and they don't really understand the politics/theology behind it unless you're teaching that to them."

That may be true to some extent, but by taking your children to this place, you are allowing seeds to be planted and, perhaps more importantly, you are financially supporting a group whose goal is to manipulate people with pseudo-science and lies.  If you aren't able to understand why that's such a big deal, maybe you just don't see the big picture, which I've tried to give a glimpse of above in regards to climate science.

And it's the big picture that really matters.  You go and vote on election day, not because your one measly vote makes any difference at all, but because in the big picture, it's important for people to vote.  The same is true with something like this - you don't support people like Answers in Genesis, not because your ticket price makes any difference, or even because your kids might turn into little young earth creationists, but because in the big picture, groups like this should not be financially supported by otherwise intelligent, well-meaning citizens living in the 21st century.

Despite the direct efforts of Answers in Genesis to label their critics as "liberals," this has nothing to do with conservatives or liberals.  This has to do with the importance you - and, by extension, your society - places on science and reality against a ridiculous fantasy world that doesn't even represent good theology, much less good science.

How would you feel about a theme park that sought to tell about the wonders of atheism and its history, and which presented atheism in the best possible light, geared for mass appeal to children? Would you take your kids there to see all the fun exhibits?  Would you write critics off as overreacting or being silly and missing the point?  Of course not.  You wouldn't take your kid within a hundred miles of the place - unless you happened to be an atheist. The same is true of the Creation Museum or Ark Encounters - unless you're a young earth creationist, you shouldn't take your kids to these places.

The Creation Museum and Ark Encounters are both anti-science indoctrination centers bent on convincing people - especially those who aren't that savvy or well-educated or who, like children, are impressionable - that the earth is 6,000 years old and that practically every scientific discipline known to humankind is flawed and misguided.  No matter how you spin it, those are the facts, and they should be enough to convince you that this isn't a place you want to support.